4 August 2015

DBS checks or foreign national criminality information?

It is common knowledge that healthcare service providers are responsible for thoroughly checking the suitability of their staff. However, when employing a foreign national one may ask whether there is a need for a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check (formally known as Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check) to be carried out as it does not provide a complete picture of any criminal record that may exist and, in any event, a foreign national from outside the EEA would have been scrutinised by the Home Office before being granted entry clearance to the UK.

From an employment perspective and in order to avoid any potential claim of discrimination, the same fair recruitment process must apply to all job applicants. Foreign nationals should not be treated less favourably than European nationals.

Healthcare service providers must ensure that all staff including foreign nationals are suitable to work with those who use their care services. Although there is no statutory requirement to undertake checks overseas it is widely considered best practice to do so, especially with respect to vulnerable adults towards whom they have a duty of care. Although DBS checks will need to be carried out, it may be wise to contact the relevant foreign embassies or ask relevant applicants to obtain foreign national criminality information or a Certificate of Good Character from their country of origin. Processes for getting criminal records checks abroad vary between countries and one should refer to guidance published by the Home Office which explains how to access information from a list of countries.

It is also worth bearing in mind that experience of life abroad is more common and it would therefore be good practice to carry out relevant checks on all applicants who have worked, studied or travelled abroad for a considerable length of time.

Harrison Clark Rickerbys Health and Social Care Team have a great deal of experience advising providers in respect of employment matters and immigration issues. For further information on how to obtain accurate disclosure information about foreign nationals, please contact Charlotte Thornton-Smith in the first instance on 01905 744811 or by email at ctsmith@hcrlaw.com.

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About the Author
Charlotte Thornton-Smith, Partner, Head of Worcester Office and Health & Social Care Sector
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